November 21, 2023 | 1:03pm
MANILA, Philippines — Sheynnis Palacios from Nicaragua has been crowned Miss Universe 2023, besting 83 other beauty queens to succeed Filipino-American R’Bonney Gabriel for the title.
This marks Nicaragua’s first-ever Miss Universe win, having previously placed four times since first joining the pageant in 1955, and first win in any major international beauty pageant.
The 23-year-old Nicaraguan trilingual — she speaks Spanish, English, and Portuguese — and nearly six-foot beauty queen is a pageant veteran herself, having finished in the Top 10 of Teen Universe 2017 and Top 40 of Miss World 2021.
Sheynnis’ first involvement with pageantry was when she won Miss Lasallista while in La Salle Managua Pedagogical Institute in Nicaragua’s capital Managua.
She later took up Mass Communication in Central American University, a Jesuit school also in Managua, finishing her degree in 2022 while also playing for the volleyball varsity team.
Sheynnis managed to get through college by working in her mother’s snack business, although the business faltered and her mother ended up moving north to find a better job, leaving Sheynnis to support her grandmother and younger brother.
Apart from pageantry, Sheynnis is also a model, journalist, and audiovisual producer. One show she was involved in was “Entiende tu mente (Understand Your Mind),” which discussed mental health-related topics.
Mental health awareness was her advocacy during pageants as she suffered from anxiety attacks when she was younger.
Her goals outside of beauty pageants are to run a newsroom and to produce content and commercials for international brands. During her free time, Sheynnis engages in mental games and puzzles, and often rescues cats and dogs.
At Miss Universe 2023, Sheynnis’ national costume was inspired by the great-tailed grackle or the zanate that is native to the Americas, the outfit designed by Jorge Salazar.
Sheynnis wowed some more during the swimsuit portion in a Rubin Singer piece paired with Jojo Bragais heels as her pasarela blew the live audience away.
During the preliminaries, Sheynnis’ evening gown was a blue dress by Jared Bermúdez embellished with 100,000 crystal stones, inspired by the turqouise waters of Nicaragua’s Corn Island.
The question she received during the Top 5 was about the qualities and values that guide her as a leader and role model for others, to which she said were humility and being to appreciate the little things “because that’s where the most valuable thing is: the essence of being a human.”
Her winning response to “If you could live one year in another woman’s shoes, who would you choose and why?” centered on the British author, philosopher, and women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft.
“She opened [a] gap and gave an opportunity to many women. What I would do, I would want that gap [to] open up so that women could work in any area that they chose to work in because there [are] no limitations for women. That was 1750. Now in 2023, we’re making history,” Sheynnis said in Spanish.
Two Miss Universe winners Sheynnis looks up to are 2020 winner Andrea Meza from Mexico and 2018 winner Catriona Gray from the Philippines, both for their genuinity and humility.
Catriona returned as a backstage correspondent for Miss Universe 2023 and along with Andrea, was present to congratulate Sheynnis shortly after being crowned the new Miss Universe.